I invited some friends over for dinner and planned to cook a Moroccan feast for them, discovering moments before I was to go to the shops to buy ingredients that I had actually cooked from that book, but the note had fallen off the front. I quickly went through my cookbooks and found another book, A Taste of Morocco: From Harira Soup to Chicken Kdra by Clare Ferguson.
This book contains some delightful recipes with amazing photographs. The instructions are clear and most recipes come with a preface of how Clare found them, whether it was at a market stall, or at a star hotel. There are a fair number of vegetable dishes in this book, and I wanted to try many of them. This is the type of book you will keep coming back to. 4 out of 5 stars.
aubergine salad with coriander and yoghurt
- 900g aubergines (eggplants), stems intact
- 6 garlic cloves, halved lengthways
- 1 teaspoon each paprika, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds, freshly ground together
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt or buttermilk
- small handful fresh coriander leaves
- Push the point of a paring knife blade into each aubergine (eggplant) in 4 places. Push the garlic slivers into the cuts.
- Spear each aubergine between two sturdy forks and cook directly over a high gas flame, turning it regularly until the outside is evenly charred, the smell aromatic and the inner pule feels soft – about 8 – 12 minutes each. (If preferred, chargrill on a rack over charcoal for a slightly longer time or bake at 250C on top rack of oven for about 35 minutes).
- Once the aubergines cool, peel and discard most of the skin. Set the flesh in a sieve. Press gently to drain off some of the juices. Discard these (the juices).
- Mash, pound or use a hand-held food mill to reduce the flesh to a rough puree. Stir in the spices and olive oil. Taste; add juice to season.
- Pile the puree into a serving dish. Swirl some yoghurt on top. Scatter some coriander leaves over. Serve warm or cool with some flatbread.
Notes on this recipe:
- It was very tasty and was completely devoured by everyone at the table.
- If you find it easier, you can also microwave the eggplants for 15 – 20 minutes in the microwave. You won’t get the nice chargrilled flavour, but it is slightly less labour intensive. You’ll know when they are done because they’ll be soft and squishy.
cuajada – herb potato omelette
- 650g red-skinned, floury potatoes, halved lenthwise
- 1 teaspoon cumin-seasoned salt (half a teaspoon of cumin seeds, half a teaspoon salt crystals, pounded into a powder)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
- large handful coriander, freshly chopped
- 8 large eggs
- extra-virgin olive oil, for cooking
- Steam the potatoes for 20 minutes over boiling water using the top steamer section of a couscoussier or traditional steamer until soft. Alternatively boil them, unpierced and whole, in boiling salted water for 20 minutes, then drain, cool slightly and peel off and discard the skin.
- Cube half the potatoes, and mash the remainder adding the cumin-seasoned salt, pepper, turmeric and half of the fresh coriander. Stir in the potatoes.
- Beat the eggs with a fork and stir into the potatoes. Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Set the base of a deep earthenware tagine, flame-proof casserole, or cast-iron frying pan over moderate heat. Pour in olive oil to a depth of nearly 2 cm. Once it is very hot, pour in the egg mixture, spreading it using a fork.
- Cook the omelette over direct heat for 5 – 8 minutes, tipping the pan and letting the uncooked mixture trickle under the edges. Then transfer to the oven.
- Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, until set, golden and puffy, piercing the omelette to let the oil soak into it. Scatter the remaining coriander over. Serve in scoops, serves or wedges, and pour off the excess oil.
Notes on this recipe:
- It’s really very tasty. If your cast iron pan (like mine) only just contains the omelette, skip the tipping the pan step.
- This really is a deep fried omelette, and a very tasty one at that. This dish was also completely devoured.
roasted chicken with olive, almonds and preserved lemons
- 1.75 kg whole chicken
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
- 3 tablespoons soft ghee, s’men or clarified butter
- 3 preserved lemons
- 1 handful fresh thyme and marjoram sprigs, plus extra to scatter
- 50g blanched almonds
- 200g cracked green olives, or dry-cured black olives, or a mix
- Preheat the oven to 200C. Pat the chicken dry inside and out using kitchen paper. Rub some garlic and salt over the inner and outer surfaces then some ghee over all. Push 1 preserved lemon inside the body with a handful of fresh herb sprigs.
- Set the bird, breast up in a pan. Scatter in the remaining herbs, the almonds and the other preserved lemons, each separated into “petals”, halved. Push these in, under and around the edges of the bird. Pour in about 60ml water. Roast uncovered for 30 minutes.
- Turn the bird onto one breast. Set the olives around it and continue to cook at the temperature of 180C for a further 25 minutes; turn bird onto its other breast, cook for a final 25 minutes. Test the bird for doneness; juices from its thigh should run clear when pierced.
- Turn the chicken breast up. Add 4 tablespoons of boiling water to the pan and stir to mix. Turn off the oven leaving the door slightly ajar. Leave the bird to stand for 10 minutes. Carve the chicken and serve, adding some of the caramelised lemon bits and sticky pan juice.
Notes on this recipe:
- If you can’t find a chicken of the right size, and go for a slightly larger size, then cook it for a bit longer.
- Keep an eye on the amount of liquid on the bottom of the dish, we ended up adding a little bit halfway through.
- Apparently the olives (which I’m not a fan of) were amazing.
beghrir (honeycomb griddle cakes)
- 200g plain, fine semolina (not semolina flour)
- 50g plain, white, wheat flour
- 1 x 7g sache, micronised, fast-acting yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, whisked with 200ml lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon clear flower-scented honey
- 50g s’men, ghee, clarified butter or salted butter
- Sieve together the semolina, flour, yeast and salt into a bowl
- Whisk together the egg, lukewarm water and honey, and pour this all at once into the dry ingredients. Whisk for 1 minute; stand the batter, covered, in a warm place for 30 minutes or until visibly bubbly.
- Preheat a non-stick electric griddle or heat a griddle pan or frying pan until fairly hot. Smear almost a teaspoonful of s’men over the hot surface. Using a tablespoon measure, ladle out pancakes onto the hot surface. Reduce heat to medium-low. Leave the batter-cakes to cook gently from underneath. After 3 – 3.5 minutes the wet, shiny top surface will have dulled to dry; well cooked through. They are ready at this point.
- Remove using a palette knife; keep hot under a cloth. Continue to cook the remaining batter mixture in batches until all are completed. Serve them warm with whatever accompaniments you prefer.
Notes on this recipe:
- They are delicious, we had ours with butter, honey, or natural yoghurt, and they were all good.
- I am not very good at the heat to high, turn to medium-low, repeat… so I cooked them on both sides to make sure they were cooked and they were still delicious.
- I will definitely make these again.